F rom Vico to Gramsci-not to mention Croce, Pareto, and Mosca-Italy has been always close to the heart of modern social theory. If one were to stretch the point to include Augustine of Hippo’s formative years in Milan, one might even say that the seeds of critical social theory as it came to be were planted in Augustine’s City of God, which was in eect, if not design, a transcendental critical theory of Rome’s collapse before Alaric’s invasion in 410 CE.